04/06/15 - An Evening with Amanda Palmer at RNCM

Amanda Palmer has been on most people's radars in some form or another for the past fifteen years, but it was her 2014 TED talk that made the world sit up and listen. This was followed by her debut book - part autobiography, part self-help book - The Art of Asking which elaborates on her idea of the relationship between artist and audience.  Since its release last November, the book has gained momentum with support from the likes of Caitlin Moran and BrenĂ© Brown.  I bought the book for my boyfriend when it came out after he was inspired to read it by the viral TED talk, and on his recommendation we purchased tickets for An Evening with Amanda Palmer.

For those who aren't aware, Amanda is a musician who rose to prominence as one half of The Dresden Dolls.  She has since gone on to have a fantastic solo musical career as well as being a pioneer of crowd-funding initiatives and now, an acclaimed author.  With her UK tour being predominantly to promote The Art of Asking, it was hard to know what to expect considering the fact that the event took place in the esteemed Concert Hall of the Royal Northern College of Music - as the name suggests, typically a classical music venue.  Rather than focussing exclusively on the book, the evening featured a diverse mix of songs from her extensive back catalogue alongside anecdotes and jokes.  The relationship between Amanda and her audience is a unique one.  From the off, it was clear that one thing Amanda has with her fanbase in a mutual respect.  Everyone in the room was there for the same reason; to have a good evening and appreciate the hard work that this brilliant woman does.  In return, her gratitude for the support she receives is palpable.  It is this connection with her audience that has resulted in such great success on platforms such as Kickstarter and PatreonHer audience are personally invested in everything she does, which can't help but increase their bond with the work.  The tone was almost conversational, as Amanda took song requests from the crowd as well as answering questions and even asking someone on the front row to open her book at random to select which extract she should read.  It felt more like a big room full of friends getting together than your standard gig.

The range of songs made for a varied and exciting evening.  Even though I'll admit I didn't know all of them, it was a fascinating glimpse into just a selection of her work, from the comedic to the utterly heartbreaking.  She even took advantage of the fact that the performance was taking place in such a prestigious musical venue by playing a song on the hall's impressive organ.  Her vocal dexterity and ability to turn her hand to a range of instruments and styles really shows what a fantastic musician she is.  A particular highlight was a beautiful piano cover of The Smiths' 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' - very apropos both for the city and for the fact that Amanda will be supporting Morrissey, one of her idols, at a gig in July.  

After a brilliant evening, I came away very inspired to delve back into Amanda's music and to get stuck into her book.  She is an inspiration to anyone creative, proof of what can be achieved with a lot of hard work and the guts to ask for help when you need it.  The fact that she performed with such energy and exuberance for nearly two and a half hours whilst six months pregnant is a shining example of how committed Amanda is to her work.  It was a privilege to see her perform live and I look forward to seeing what she is going to achieve in the future.

I was lucky enough to get some of the last tickets available for the Manchester performance before it sold out, so with that in mind, if you are planning on going to any of the remaining dates and have yet to book a ticket you can do so here. If you're interesting in becoming more familiar with Amanda's music, she has compiled an accessible timeline on her website which will give you the selected highlights of her back catalogue.

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